New feed-in tariff regime may not come into force until March 2016

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has sought to clarify details over when changes to the feed-in tariff will come into force, including specific details relating to the statutory instrument.

A spokeswoman for DECC told Solar Power Portal: “At this stage we have the consultation for that [the feed-in tariff] so we’re likely to publish a response in the new year... We received a lot of responses back so we’ll take some time obviously to go through those before we publish that response.”

However when pressed, the department sought to clarify that this response was meant to refer to the changes to the feed-in tariff itself rather than the consultation response, which the department still hopes to publish before the end of the year.

The department is understood to be sorting through more than 55,000 responses following a huge backlash to the industry. Energy minister Andrea Leadsom said last week that just over 2,500 were considered “detailed responses”.

DECC also looked to address confusion over the standstill period that has to be observed. As any changes to the feed-in tariff order – which is secondary legislation – require a statutory instrument, if the change is considered negative then 40 days notice must be given.

It was unclear whether this referred to 40 normal days, working days or parliamentary days which, given parliamentary recesses, could result in substantial differences.

A DECC spokesman confirmed to Solar Power Portal that these changes would require 40 parliamentary days. Parliament is scheduled to adjourn for Christmas between 17 December and 5 January 2016, and later between 11 February and 22 February 2016.

Therefore depending on when a response is forthcoming, it could be until March 2016 that the feed-in tariff rate is amended to new proposals, far beyond the 1 January date set out in the impact assessment.

If the consultation response was published on 7 December 2015, the new rate would not come into effect until 25 February 2016 at the earliest.

Last month energy regulator Ofgem published the new feed-in tariff rates which will come into force on 1 January 2016 pending new legislation, revealing the rate for a standard installation up to 4kW in size to be 12.03p/kWh.

This article has been amended from its original version to include new information forthcoming from the Department of Climate Change.